Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

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Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Cat and I finished another round of our fall/winter planting this past weekend.  Mustard, broccoli, cabbages, about 87 kinds of lettuce, radishes, beets (I think), carrots and probably some other things.  We're fortunate because our little bubble of SE Virginia is a Zone 9a/9b and we can have an outdoor garden just about year round.

This is our first shot at a fall/winter planting - we used numerous seasonal guides for this part of Virginia, so we're pretty sure we did it close to correct.

Anybody else out there doing a fall/winter planting?  We're looking for shared experiences so we can minimize the slope of our learning curve.

As a side note, we are on our second bumper of tomatoes, third bumper of peppers, first bumper of Ichiban eggplant (these are very tasty and if you like eggplant and can grow them where you live, I'd strongly suggest it).  Also harvested the first round of our sweet potatoes ranging in size from a softball to a shooter marble (okay, we dug those up too soon), with a bunch of other plants still in the boxes.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Hi Rick,

I'm not doing it yet - but I'm highly interested  in this topic and plan to do it! What is your weather in Virginia in wintertime? Zone 9 sounds pretty good, I think I'm are in Zone 5-7. Here in Hamburg we had for example in january lowest degree 12 C and highes 10 C with some snow and more rain. Through wintertime we had lowest degree 16 C and highes 12 C. Therefore I'm planning to construct some hotbeds and coldframes based on the square foot gardening.

From experience in my childhood I know, that in wintertime green cabage works really good. For this winter I'm planning to test the lambs lettuce.

Good luck with your Fall/Winter Gardening! If you have any literature, that you like, I'm grateful for comments!

Thanks & very best greetings to Cat

Yours
Regina

 

 

 

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

since I don't have a yard yet, I'm not doing it.  

but on a related topic, I'm curious if a little greenhouse would allow people in colder climates to grow year round?  or does the sun cycle interfere winter growing anyway?

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Hi Strabes,

Greenhouse is a good alternative, even a "cold" Greenhouse, but it is expensive. That reminds me on the book of Helen & Scott Nearing "The good life" - the described how to grow food even in winter in there garden in vermont. Have to re-read it to get some ideas...

Best greetings from northern Germany,
Regina

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Hi Regina -

It doesn't get below freezing very often in our part of Virginia and if it does, it doesn't last for too long.  We have a handful of days each winter that drop down to the mid to low 20s, but those are few and far between.  I'd say on average we are just above freezing for the average winter low temperatures.  Of course it only takes an Alberta clipper or two to freeze everything, and the very rare Panhandle hook that dumps about 20 inches of snow on us.

Cat and I are also thinking about putting in a few cold frames or some PVC hoop houses.  We'll see how that develops.  Whatever we end up doing we'll keep you updated on how things are going and any lessons learned.

Really enjoyed the pictures of the new cabin too.  Take care.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

I just planted some winter wheat and beans to get some nitrogen into the ground for next year.  I'm also getting ready to plant my garlic.  We'll see how it goes.  Here in N. VA we get some pretty cold weather depending on the year and it could come earlier rather than later.  One nice thing is some of my brussels sprouts that I planted too late in the spring are now coming back and giving a nice little crop.  Same with some of my brocollini (at least the ones that survived a little ground hog <may he rest in peace> that got into my garden a wreaked havoc for a week or so).  It's all an experiment this year so anything I get I'm pretty happy.

Cheers!

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Nitrogen

LR -

We looked at this year's SFG effort as proof of concept too and I think we did pretty well all things considered.

What kind of beans did you plant?  Soybeans have come in nicely in the fields down in this part of VA, but it's too too late for us to plant any this year.  I've always heard that soybeans are a great N2 crop.  We expect to have something going in the beds just about year round so I'm not sure Cat would be willing to give up any space just yet, although the winter wheat might be an interesting option.  I wonder if oat grass does the same thing?

We had the same experience with our cabbage, broccoli and brussells sprouts (less the 4 legged target) and lost a couple of each to heat and cabbage loopers.  We've managed to nurse some along through the summer and should be picking the little turtle heads soon. 

Keep us updated as to how your garden works out over the fall/winter stretch.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

  We are now ready to pick the sweet potatoes and Pumpkins . zone 5-7   Getting our fall picking of green beans . Still harvesting tomatoes  The beets and carrots are   looking good .  

 This will be my first year for a greenhouse .  Did you see the one on the front of the Mother Earth News .. made from recycled windows ?  It is much like the one we built early this year .  We are putting gutters on  to collect rain water .

On a sad note . Our friends house caught fire this week . All their  canned goods gone .. such hard work up in flames .   We are planning a canned good / garden tool shower to lift her spirits .   Good news is  that the bones of the house are in good shape and they will rebuild .

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Hi Full Moon. So sorry to hear about your friend's place burning!  I am glad she has good neighbors/friends like you to help her over the hard time.

Dogs, I haven't started a fall crop yet, but am planning to plant garlic at a minimum.  I planted cloves in the spring only to be told it was a fall crop.  Tell that to my garlic!:)  But I will try it the "right" way too, to see what happens.  I am in the same situation as LR, and I think you and Cats, where this is my first real garden, so it  is very much a learning experience.  So whatever I get from the garden is a bonus. 

I planted about 3 different varieties of shell beans (beans to dry and save) to see how they did and what did best, and they are ready to harvest.  I also planted some more late bean, late carrots, and late cucumbers to replace my tomatoes and potatoes which got the blight and had to be ripped out (I shared that woe on another thread earlier this summer).  But there was a lesson learned: don't put all your survival-food (eggs) in one basket; diversify! 

I have asparagus I started this spring, that is growing nice ferny plants, that I will be able to harvest (I think) this next spring.  It is a perennial, which you've gotta love, and supposedly their beds last many years.

And of all the silly things, I'm picking strawberries in September!  I planted the strawberry beds this spring, and followed the advice I read to pinch off flowers and runners this first year, so the plants can grow strong and establish themselves.  But I got a little behind lately, and what a kick it is to see strawberries just begging to pop out!  Not a lot, a stray handful here and there.  But encouraging for a first-time gardener like me!

DIAP, it sounds like you and Cats kicked butt and took no names with your garden!!  I envy you the year-round growing season, and wonder like other folks here about doing coldframes (?) or a greenhouse (or potato barrel?) to try to grow something during our cold, snowy winter.

I'm also thinking about putting in another raised bed garden this fall, and getting all the soil etc in it that I'd need now.  I need more growing room, and I'm thinking that getting the additional garden set up now might be a good precaution.  That way, I'll be all set with it if we get hit with bigtime inflation (or some other "garden variety" crisis) before next spring that might make acquiring the materials harder or more expensive.  ...(Sorry about the pun, I thought it and had to write it!:)

 

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Nice thread!  Absolutely yes, we are doing it this winter in Windsor, Ontario.  Mostly it is a rehearsal to see what works and what does not, but I am really excited about it, have never considered it until recently.  We are also trying out a greenhouse for the first time.  We have a nice seed/plant exchange in our city, and I've been getting pointers from them, but am eager to hear back from you guys as well.

Can anyone advise me as to what vegetables grow best under limited sunlight conditions?  Or is there any such thing?

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Hi Yoshhash-

I'm starting a new glass greenhouse this year. I've had it with plastic ones.. . . and here's my list:

  • IN-determinate tomatoes. Determinate ones have a single huge crop - in-determinate produce all winter long. . .kiinda like ever-bearing strawberries. A few cherry varieties and some larger ones for fresh spagetti sauce. Greenpeppers also will produce once mature but I'm not sure for how long. I'll see if cucs will survive in there too. Zone 5 here but when the snow hits the ground- it can get really hot inside a greenhouse from winter sun light.
  • Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage with a side of pea pods. Around that I want some swiss chard, which is also a "once you have it going - you got it till you have it coming out of your ears" kind of crop.
  • I'm trying water chessnuts in a barrel in the greenhouse, they froze last year outside so I had to get more.
  • String beans (another all-you-can-eat-all-winter crop) and I'll keep them picked so they keep going.
  • I'll keep sweet potato vines going in the greenhouse to make new slips out of in the spring and a few zucchini to test to see if will take the temps. I'll also be using it to start my next years starter plants early.
  • My favorite greenhouse crop - I'll keep my laying hens in a hutch in there. Hopefully I will get some fresh floor food like alfalfa or clover growing for them to forage around in there.

That's the Winter Game plan.   EGP

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

I have put in my spinach but having a deuce of a time finding mustard green seeds. The mustards always do well here in zone 8 and 100 square feet kept me and the neighbors good until the heat wave hit in April. I am thinking about getting a greenhouse. I thought about a plastic one. Uh oh! Maybe not looking at EndGamePlayers post. But we get awful hail storms here every year. Maybe I will just keep waffling in the meantime.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

I started last fall experimenting with fall/winter gardening based on the methods in Eliot Coleman's book The Four Season Harvest, which I highly recommend.  http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/  He is in Zone 5- Maine, just like me.  The idea he promotes is getting most of the growing done before things get too cold, and then preserving veggies in place, harvesting as needed, and continuing to grow the hardiest ones that can survive frosts. That saves a lot of time and food quality vs. freezing or canning. 

I made cold frames last year with double pane sliding glass doors snagged from my neighbors curbside trash.  I planted spinach the end of august, and harvested leaves through December until it stopped growing.  I got Claytonia greens steadily though. Then early spring the spinach started again, and I kept cutting until it finally bolted this summer.  I got early carrots too, that had been seeded the previous fall.  The cold frames are set on square fot garden style raised beds right next to the driveway and house entrance for easier convenience than digging a 150' path to the backyard garden through the snow.

This year, albiet a bit late, I put in a lot more spinach, carrots, beets, bunching onions, chard, claytonia, and a few turnips and am building more cold frames.  I think the cold frames protect the plants more efficiently and much cheaper than a greenhouse.  Coleman talks about building a larger hoophouse or greenhouse over your cold frames though for the really cold months, which is certainly necessary in this region. 

For my high carbo needs, I have in the cellar about 100 pounds of potatos I just dug up, butternut squash and pumpkins will be ready soon, and fall peas are coming up now. 

Tom

 

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

EGP  ,

   Can you give us  the variety on your indoor tomatoes  and such .  Do you have a specific  soil mix you find that works ?  What magazine or book do you get your info from ?  

   This is my first winter with a greenhouse .  The fogs have been many , the locus sang early and the caterpillars are woolly  . I am expecting a long  hard winter and would like to have some success here .   It sounds as if you are a seasoned Player .

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?
Woodman wrote:

I started last fall experimenting with fall/winter gardening based on the methods in Eliot Coleman's book The Four Season Harvest, which I highly recommend.  http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/  He is in Zone 5- Maine, just like me.  The idea he promotes is getting most of the growing done before things get too cold, and then preserving veggies in place, harvesting as needed, and continuing to grow the hardiest ones that can survive frosts. That saves a lot of time and food quality vs. freezing or canning. 

Hi, Tom;

Thanks for the reminder about preserving veggies in place . . . . I had sort of forgotten about that option . . . . It takes the pressure off of the end of the season time crunch, and saves on energy, to boot . . . . not to mention the improved texure of fresh over canned veggies . . . . Other than greens, I haven't had enough success with greenhouse veggies to rationalize the effort . . . . .  I've got Eliot Coleman's book . . . .Just haven't had a chance to look at it . . . .

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Soy beans and not for harvest.  I had a bunch of seeds and just threw them around and raked them into my corn beds.  If we have a mind fall and no real frost until Nov. then I may see something but in all reality I did it to just get the plants going and increase the nutrients.  I'm trying to figure out when I should put this Potash into the soil.  I have the bulk, silver bb type that I got from a farmer friend.  Really don't know much about it so any ideas would be great.  

Also, I still have some carrots in the ground and they've really taken to the colder weather.  How long can I keep them in the ground?  

Good thread!  Thanks dog!

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Mother Earth News

This is a great article in Mother Earth News... Grow Your Best Fall Garden: What, When and How  http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/Fall-Gardening-Best-Fall-Garden.aspx

Mother Earth News currently has yearly magazine subscriptions for $10.00. A wealth of information on many subjects available in the magazine. http://www.motherearthnews.com/

Dogs, we live in zone 8a.... We ordered our garlic and onions from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange back in July. Still waiting for them to arrive. http://www.southernexposure.com/index.html

Cat

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Eliot Coleman's newest book (March 2009) is called The Winter Harvest Handbook.  He explains how to use moveable greenhouses for winter production/harvesting.  It's an incredible book that includes rotation plans, planting date charts, lists of varieties (and sources) that do well with low light levels, climate maps and suggestions for how to tailor a planting schedule to your latitude and length of winter.  The book also covers growing techniques, tools and pest management for greenhouse production.   Oh - and lots of color pictures!

We just put up a hoop house and are moving the chickens into 1/3 of the greenhouse for the winter.  Growing greens for them in there is a great idea.  (We are in MA.)  This greenhouse is permanent, unfortunately, because I found the book this summer after we had set the posts and base.  My goal is to make a small, moveable one next year, maybe  8' x 12'.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Woodman and Cats, thanks for the pointers to the references! 

Great thread, DIAP; this is valuable information and experience to learn from!

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?
Mary Ellen wrote:

Eliot Coleman's newest book (March 2009) is called The Winter Harvest Handbook.  He explains how to use moveable greenhouses for winter production/harvesting.  It's an incredible book that includes rotation plans, planting date charts, lists of varieties (and sources) that do well with low light levels, climate maps and suggestions for how to tailor a planting schedule to your latitude and length of winter.  The book also covers growing techniques, tools and pest management for greenhouse production.   Oh - and lots of color pictures!

We just put up a hoop house and are moving the chickens into 1/3 of the greenhouse for the winter.  Growing greens for them in there is a great idea.  (We are in MA.)  This greenhouse is permanent, unfortunately, because I found the book this summer after we had set the posts and base.  My goal is to make a small, moveable one next year, maybe  8' x 12'.

Mary Ellen -

Welcome to the thread and thanks for the tip on the Winter Harvest Handbook. 

We are still debating/discussing cold frame v. hoop house v. greenhouse, but in the end I will end up doing what Cat tells me to.

Except cutting down the oak tree or pulling up my ornamental holly.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Thanks Cat! I've immdiately subscribed Mother Earth news!

Have a good time,

yours Regina

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

 I was wondering what to do with the MANY tomatoes and blooms left on the vine when the frost is sure to hit .   One of my friends told me they pull vine and all and hang them in the garage .  They have tomatoes until Christmas that way .  zone 5

   Anybody here try those upside down tomato bags ?   I was considering  starting some in the greenhouse now  to see how they worked but not intrested in blowing the money if the bags do not work .

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

FullMoon -

Not sure how much of this is botanically (???) correct, but it certainly is anecdotally accurate.  We do one big picking at the end of the growing season and put our green tomatoes upside down on brown paper bags and most of them ripen.  SE Virginia is really strange climate wise - our "first" frost of the year may not happen until January or February, long after the tomatoes have been pulled out of the beds.  You could try both methods and see what works.

We didn't do any upside down bags this year but the people that I know who did said they worked.  One thing they did say was that you can make your own upside down planters pretty easily.  So maybe you buy one and use it as a prototype and build your own.

So far our fall planting is running well - the lettuce and mustard are really coming up nicely and the broccoli and cabbages are really taking off.  I noticed this morning that one of the broccoli we planted way too late (in May) but successfully nursed through the summer has a bud on it so I am guardedly optimistic that I can turn a planting error into food. 

Another nice observation now that the temps have dropped is that the looper worms and caterpillars are all but gone.  Keep us posted on how your fall garden is coming along - looking forward to learning from your experiences and sharing ours.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

 I am rather excited because this being our first year to do a fall garden , I find the lettuce , green beans, spinach  and beets taste better than the early garden .   Plus it is  much more enjoyable to be out in this cooler weather . Had I known this I would have planted cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower .   I  plan to till and plant some winter wheat in the place that the summer crops have been harvested  .

 That being said , I would not have this luxury if I was needed  in the field with soybean ,corn, and Milo  harvest . All are looking good in our area.

  Another bit of info I gathered from an old time gardener is  to NOT compost your tomato peals, and seeds as it causes the blight that so many gardens had this year .    So  Our chicken will  be sure to get all these goodies .

   As best as I can tell I believe we have saved a little over $300 a month on fresh produce for the past 4 months and the shelves are filling .    If I worked outside the home I do not think the benefits would weigh out  but I do know some families that have been able to do both . Several meals have been grown totally at home .  But  if I had to make the noodles  and grind the wheat for bread I would need to plan things way ahead of time .   Just like making the butter , yogurt, and cheese  takes little time to make , it takes  ahead planning .

   Still very convinced that every little bit you are able to do and learn from will be rewared, being  is best to start now and to pass it  down to the young ones.  There is just so much  to do and plan  that  we could get discouraged from the failures.   I always learn more from my mistakes tho. Cry

  

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?
Full Moon wrote:

 I was wondering what to do with the MANY tomatoes and blooms left on the vine when the frost is sure to hit .  

I sliced and dehydrated a bunch of tomatoes that came ripe all at once and sealed them up in jars.  Seems much easier than canning would be, and the concentrated taste is great. 

The rest of my tomatoes in the backyard raised beds got hit with some kind of blight, but my tomatoes in buckets out front are still good.  I've been bringing those inside the garage when we had near frost last week.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

I've been pulling the green along with the ripe and have been making salsa and canning.  I seem to get a good enough combination to keep this up for a while.  I did the upside down cucs but not tomatoes.  Will be interested to hear how they go.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

  Today, while canning, our  young boys decided they were going to best the girls with their canned green beans and they  think their idea will be a purple ribbon at next years State Fair .   They got wide mouthed pint jars , found beans all the same size and straightness . Then they stood them up in the jar all lined up nicely .   This for sure will be a hit with the judge .  

 Well I heard them in their thinking ahead and deciding they will do the same with the asparagus come spring .

 

 Now the challenge is to first hide them so they do not get eaten  before next  summer then again to find them when it comes to fair time .   I know how some people must think we are a little off  plum here . But   it was really an enjoyable few hours with the family . The kids all love to spend time with grandma and she really knows how to get them to work without them thinking about it .  

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

Full Moon -

Great story. 

Which reminds me, we have friends who have an annual Oyster Roast and BBQ - they raise their own oysters in a tributary of the York River on the Middle neck of Virginia.  the roast was last weekend and someone had sanned "Dilly Beans" they prepared earlier this summer.  Think dill pickle meets green bean.  Very tasty - I have the recipe at home and will get it posted here and in the recipe thread.

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

That's funny, one of my coworkers gave me a jar of "Dilly Beans" today, after I brought in a bunch of extra veggies from my garden last week to share.

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Fall/Winter Gardening - Update from Cat

Link over to the Square Foot Gardening thread: 

http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/square-foot-gardening/18771

How are other Fall gardener's efforts coming along? 

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Re: Fall/Winter Gardening - Who's Doing It?

  Today I gave in to fear of a hard frost .  We have had several light frosts but today  there was a Sun Dog a good part of the afternoon.  A sure sign of weather change .  We picked all the bean, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce ,beets, brussel sprouts, pears,  and got half the sweet potatoes  dug before running out of light .  We did cut off the sweet potato vines so  hope we can get back to digging the next warm day .   Fall has just not been long enough . The Fall garden was much tastier and enjoyable to work . 

  Tomorrow we need to get the electric fence checked and bring the horses in  for the winter .   It  seems early in the year to be doing this but better safe than sorry .

  After we get all this put up I will start reading about what I can start in the green house  and read more on the square foot gardening  so we have a better chance at the weed battle.  

  Did you see that Oct. is the month to harvest Willow , Chokecherry , and Slippery Elm  bark  for natural remedies.

  Not time to rest yet .

   

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